UPDATE 18 NOVEMBER
The chancellor announced in his Autumn statement yesterday that the government is pushing back the forced migration of claimants from income-related employment and support allowance (ESA) to universal credit (UC) to 2028. As a result we will no longer be publishing 'My UC Alerts' though we may return to the project in 2027.
Benefits and Work is trialling a free email update service that will keep you informed about what’s happening with the ESA to UC forced migration process. There are already clear indications that, unless the DWP changes track, the migration process will be very difficult for some claimants to manage successfully.
‘My UC Alerts’ will be sent in addition to our usual, fortnightly newsletters, but emails won’t come out on a regular basis.
Instead they will be sent out only when there is something important to report.
Initially emails are likely to be fairly sporadic as the migration process is in its early stages and few people are affected. But beginning in the spring of next year 5,000 claimants will be moved to UC and in the winter another 100,000 will be migrated.
Following that, around 2.5million claimants are scheduled to be moved by the end of 2024.
We strongly suspect that the whole process is going to be a mess, with changing and confused messages, software failures and helplines that are impossible to get through on. We also believe it will hugely overrun the proposed timetable, causing prolonged worry and stress for many of those involved.
Worst of all, if it goes ahead as currently planned, it is utterly inevitable that some claimants will be left destitute when they are unable to navigate the complex and flawed migration procedure within the time limits.
We want to get in early and make sure we can communicate effectively with those who are subject to the migration, without stories about it overwhelming our main newsletter, given that the majority of readers may not be directly affected.
There will still be information about the forced migration in the main, fortnightly newsletter, but not necessarily in as much detail.